E. Lynn Harris, an African-American writer who wrote about the lives of gay and bisexual black men, has died during a west coast book tour. He was 54.
In a statement to the AJC, Alison Rich, Doubleday executive director of publicity said: “We at Doubleday are deeply shocked and saddened to learn of E. Lynn Harris’ death at too young an age. His pioneering novels and powerful memoir about the black gay experience touched and inspired millions of lives, and he was a gifted
storyteller whose books brought delight and encouragement to readers everywhere.
Lynn was a warm and generous person, beloved by friends, fans, and booksellers
alike, and we mourn his passing.”
A cause of death was not immediately known. Further inquiries were directed to the
Los Angeles coroner’s office.
In January of this year, Harris began the book tour for his 12th best-seller
“Basketball Jones” here in Atlanta with a signing at one of his favorite shops,
Outwrite Books in Midtown.
An inspirational success story, Harris worked for a decade as an IBM executive
before taking up writing, selling the novel "Invisible Life" from his car as he
visited salons and beauty parlors around Atlanta. He had unprecedented success
for an openly gay black author and his strength as a romance writer led some to
call him the "male Terry McMillan."
He went on to mainstream success with works such as the novel "Love of My Own" and the memoir "What Becomes of the Brokenhearted."
His writing fell into several genres, including gay and lesbian fiction, African
American fiction and urban fiction. But he found success in showing readers a
new side of African American life: the secret world of professional, bisexual
black men living as heterosexuals.
"He was a pioneering voice within the black LGBT community but also resonated with mainstream communities, regardless of race and sexual orientation," said Herndon Davis, a gay advocate and a diversity media consultant in Los Angeles. "Harris painted with eloquent prose and revealing accuracy the lives of African American men and the many complicated struggles they faced reconciling their sexuality and spirituality while rising above societal taboos within the black
His writings and spirits will be greatly missed.
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